Did You Know? The 1 Health Condition Antioxidants Can’t Cure

By on August 6, 2013
It was previously believed that taking antioxidants could help a woman’s fertility–after all, it’s been shown to fight off heart disease and cancer–but now a shocking new study says this simply isn’t true.

The study, which was published in The Cochrane Library, found that women who took antioxidants in supplement form did not improve their fertility or chances of conceiving.

Unfortunately, the effects in those suffering from infertility didn’t fare any better.

“Many subfertile women undergoing fertility treatment also take dietary supplements in the hope of improving their fertility,” writes the researchers of the study. “Antioxidants were not found to be effective for increasing rates of live birth or clinical pregnancy.”

Previously, researched showed that antioxidants were often associated with negative outcomes for infertile women–but for infertile men, it seemed to heighten their fertility, an effect researchers can’t explain.

The Evidence Against Antioxidant Supplements

Researchers have long been investigating the effects of antioxidants on fertility–an issue researchers from the University of Auckland sought out by compiling a group of 28 trials involving over 3,500 women. These trials compared the effects of antioxidants versus placebo or standard infertility treatment.

Multiple antioxidant supplements were also assessed, including l-arginine, vitamin E, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and melatonin.

Because of biases towards antioxidants in the past, it was expected that increasing antioxidant intake in females would make it easier to conceive–but that wasn’t the case.

“This review aimed to assess whether supplements with oral antioxidants increase a subfertile woman’s chances of becoming pregnant and having a baby,” writes researchers. “Antioxidants were not found to be effective for increasing rates of live birth or clinical pregnancy. Based on these results, we would expect that out of 100 subfertile women not taking antioxidants, 23 would become pregnant, compared with between 22 and 36 per 100 who would become pregnant if taking antioxidants to improve their chances of becoming pregnant.”

On a more positive note, however, these trials showed that taking antioxidants did not increase the risk of any unwanted complications, such as ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, say researchers.

So Are Antioxidants Useless if You Want to Conceive?

The evidence is pretty clear: If you’re infertile, then taking a daily antioxidant supplement won’t do much good. But does this mean you should swear off antioxidant supplements entirely?

“All of the organs, fluids, and players in the reproductive system are made up of cells which need protecting,” says Hethir Rodriguez, C.H., C.M.T., founder of Natural Fertility Info. “The antioxidant rich foods that you eat and antioxidant supplements that you consume can all have an impact on the health of your cells.”

Certain antioxidants like vitamin C and E can also improve the health of your entire body–and therefore provide a healthier environment to conceive a child. Though it may not directly affect your fertility, having a healthy body can do wonders for a sensitive reproductive system.

Readers: Do you take antioxidant supplements to improve your reproductive health? Why or why not?

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